No 1 (97) 2014
January - March

About Clashes in Young Painting

The 23rd edition of the annual All-Poland Young Painting Review, PROMOTIONS 2013 was held in the end of last year in Legnica. One of the oldest painting competitions in the country has come neither as a coup d'état, nor as a special surprise.

Justyna Teodorczyk

PhD in cultural studies, a many years curator at the Legnica Art Gallery, an author of texts, a co-author of the Art. for Łódź Foundation artistic and social initiatives.

Justyna Teodorczyk

ORGANIZERS - THE ART GALLERY - HAVE NOT BEEN SURPRISED EVEN WITH A CONSIDERABLE INTEREST (they received 243 works by 78 young authors from 14 art academies), since easel painting had long overcome a supposed crisis. Jury members have been surprised neither with an even level of participants (since this has been a typical feature of "Legnica"), nor with a quite homogenous picture of the Polish painting illustrated by several hundred of submitted canvases.

In spite of a number of positive comments on young art, voiced during the jury debates and summary press briefing, they strongly expressed certain shortcomings that could be defined as a little stagnation, a general sense of helplessness, if not a conservative withdrawal to focus on tools and form. The commission stressed that the young Polish painting lacks an authentic, spectacular rebellion, the energy typical of young generations, and a new wave which tide wipes everything out. Andrzej Saj, a many years juror of the Legnica Review, confirms that this trend has been observed for several years. While Stach Szabłowski, the jury Chairman, has chosen the Legnica forum to manifest his disappointment with the status quo.

"Yes - he wrote in an introduction to the "post Promotion" exhibition catalogue - I would like young painters to declare a war against something. Against what? It really does not matter. Against their professors. Against the status quo. Against the Motherland. The capital. Abortion. Against painting as such. Against me - as a viewer and critic. I wish they tried some kind of a patricide, turned a picture into a battlefield. While the pictures (...)are calm and peaceful"1). The lack of "the rebellion for its own sake", as well as the lack of metapainting reflections, has been noted by Bartek Otocki, another juror; a painter and photographer, whose works have been in constant discussion with a cultural definition of art he has pursued, and who has applied ever stronger means of artistic expression (the, his latest project, made with Artur Malewski, deals with the problem of cyber prostitution).

One should believe that following young painters will show the characteristics that - at least in general understanding - have been still associated with youth. That they will declare an artistic war, that they will "give a piece of their mind", that they will breath some fresh air into the medium that has not been new, nevertheless it has not got outdated for centuries. All the more so, because there are some promising signals, if only to mention the "Bielska Autumn" ("Bielska Jesień"), the latest edition of which registered "a very interesting clash on a recently boring and smooth surface of the Polish painting"2), as observed by Paweł Jarodzki, the Chairman of the Bielska jury.


Juliusz Kosin, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage GRAND PRIX, and the FORMAT Art. Magazine Award;

Katarzyna Piotrowicz, Lower Silesia Voyvodship Marshall Award, the Legnica Art Gallery Award - "Silver Spur" statuette, and the EXIT Art Quarterly Award;

Paweł Słota, the Legnica City Mayor Award.

The jury of the 23rd All-Poland Young Painting Review, PROMOTIONS 2013:

Stach Szabłowski, art historian, the Chairman, Andrzej Saj, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Format magazine; Bartek Otocki, painter, photographer; Elżbieta Fuchs, art historian, Director of the City Art. Gallery in Łódź; Dagmara Angier-Sroka, an artist dealing with easel and mural painting.

1) S. Szabłowski, The War that Did Not Happen, and the Alliance that Was Entered into. The exhibition catalogue of the 23rd All-Poland Young Painting Review PROMOTIONS 2013, Legnica 2013, p.3.

2) Quote after: the "Bielska Jesień 2013"Grand Prix for Ewa Juszkiewicz, press information, "Arteon" no. 12 (164), p.4

23. All-Poland Young Painting Review Promotions 2013, Art Gallery, Legnica 2013.